Early Look at Top 10 Rookie Running Backs in 2017 draft

Since we don’t know combine scores, interviews, teams drafted and training camp results yet, it’s too early to get very comfortable with who the top 10 running backs should be for 2017.  That won’t stop me from trying!  Here’s a quick look at 10 players that I like in this draft and will follow closely.  Some are obvious, some may not be, but all are worth tracking over the next 6 months as they have now officially announced for the draft.

  1. Leonard Fournette – He was injured and didn’t quite dominate like he did in 2015 but it’s hard not to put him first on the list.  He’s huge, athletic and has been productive when not injured.  His situation is not dissimilar to Adrian Peterson when he came out…injured but studly and worth the risk at the top of the draft.
  2. Dalvin Cook – The FSU star has done everything he can do at the college level.  He’s a bigger, stronger Devonte Freeman and that’s not a knock on Freeman, that’s a good thing for Cook’s prospects.
  3. Christian McCaffery – He’s #3 on the list due to his spectacular athleticism and playmaking ability.  The reality is that he doesn’t have the body type of an NFL three down player so while at this point I would not take him down a notch, it will be critical that he goes to an offense that knows how to use his skills.  If not, I’m afraid he might turn into Tavon Austin or Reggie Bush 2.0.
  4. Joe Mixon – With Nick Chubb and Royce Freeman staying in college another year, this RB draft that was supposed to be spectacular has been diluted a bit.  So we find ourselves with Joe Mixon very high on the list.  Unfortunately for Mixon, he hit a woman and rightly so the NFL is eyeing him warily and if he gets drafted at all, it will be most likely a third day pick.  Though this doesn’t at all take away from the gravity of what he did, Mixon has said and done the right things since the incident and Oklahoma coaches chose to give him a second chance which he seems to humbly be taking.  If he keeps his slate clean, he’s someone you want to keep an eye on as from a athletic perspective he’s a great running back.  He shared time with Samaje Perrine so his production was with shared time, but that production showed an explosive, dynamic back that can do everything you’d like an NFL back to do.  I hope for his sake he’s learned his lesson and treats women with the respect they deserve.
  5. Alvin Kamara – When you watch tape of Kamara you see a back that has the size and instincts to be very successful in the NFL.  Right now, since he was sharing time in Tennessee he’s a bit of a sleeper but as the off-season rolls on he can be a guy that ends up very high in the rookie pecking order.  If not, you may just get yourself a 2nd round special player.
  6. Samaje Perine – At 235 Perine is a big boy and don’t mistake him for LeVeon Bell.  He’s a straight-line runner with not a ton of wiggle but has been productive at Oklahoma.  I see him as a Michael Turner type where if he get into the right offense that is looking to pound the ball, he can be a fantasy asset.  He’s not going to be a three-down player all the time though, unless he shows more athleticism at the combine than he shows on tape.
  7. D’Onta Foreman – Another big guy that did very well on a poor team in Texas.  It will be interesting to see where he goes and how he is used as again he’s almost too big to be the kind of NFL back that can stay on the field all the time.  Training camp and the combine may prove me wrong on this so he’s worth keeping an eye on.
  8. Jeremy McNichols – A solid RB coming out of Boise State, McNichols was uber productive on a team that plays at a high level but has not competed on the national stage as in recent years.  That makes him a great sleeper pick to keep an eye on for late first, early second draft picks.
  9. Kareem Hunt – He played at Toledo so it may take him a while to adjust to the speed of the NFL, but he was very productive and has the perfect body type, 5-11 height and 225 lbs. weight to be a starter in the NFL eventually.
  10. Wayne Gallman – I see Gallman as the CJ Prosise of this draft. Tall and skinny for an NFL RB he does not hit the hole with a ton of power but he’s elusive and a solid pass catcher.  I see him as more of a complimentary back but again, it’s early and worth keeping an eye on him.

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